This morning I took the dogs out as I do most mornings. Since Bella, the poodle puppy, is still so little I typically stand in the front yard to watch that she does not run off. As I stood in our yard this morning I found myself staring at all of our “stuff”. I first saw the trampoline Nate loved that was a Christmas present last year. As I looked at the trampoline I felt tears welt up as I pictured Nate running and jumping and playing on it with his usual energy and excitement. I remember Nate asking Justin to blow the leaves off the trampoline with the leaf blower. I don’t think he cared that there were leaves on the trampoline honestly… I just think he wanted to see Justin get tools out and help. I began to walk around the yard and then saw the dump trucks he played with almost every day whether it warm or cold, or sunny or raining. Each truck had a purpose to him of hauling dirt in the yard or piling fresh cut grass into or emptying rocks from behind the retaining wall. Then the bike he learned to ride last Spring and whizzed around on like a pro. I can still see his little legs just peddling as fast as they would go. Everything he did was with such intent. The water table and sand box he’d always wanted and we finally broke down and bought him last summer. I claimed it was for Kaylee and daycare children but really it was Nate that I knew wanted that sand box. I even looked at our house, the cars, and shed in wonder. Everything we have I looked at in a new light and wondered just what does it all mean? We certainly weren’t spoiled and the kids didn’t have everything they wanted but to us what we had was always enough.
I found myself then pondering about the trips we’ve taken to the beach, to the lake, camping, or to the cabin in TN, to visit family, to amusement parks, or water parks. Then all the trips we were still wishing for… Disney, New York sightseeing, the airplane rides we didn’t take, all the things we still wanted to do with Drew, Nate, and Kaylee.
But then I began to think… Out of all our things and all our memories with Nate I wondered what my favorite was. In that moment my mind wrapped around a memory as if I could still feel Nate right there. Our afternoon cuddles on the couch. He and I would spend our afternoon curled up to watch his cartoon and spend some quiet time. It was the one time of day that in this crazy life that I really just relaxed. And it was with Nate. Sure, there were dishes that needed done or floors that need swept or laundry that needed folded. But to me it was the time of day the house was quiet. Drew was at school, Kaylee was napping, and the ringers on the phones turned off. Out of everything we’ve done… These are what I miss most. The love we gave him, the hugs we gave him, the laughter we shared, the evening game of “punches” the boys would play with Justin, the tickle fights, the family room covered in blanket forts, camping out in the family room, the bedtime dance parties or bedtime hide and seek games. These are the little things that when you look back have become the big things. Looking back I wouldn’t change one single moment of the love we gave him.
As we approach Christmas and the materialistic things that come with Christmas I am reminded of what really matters. Life. Love. Faith. Family. Friends. There are gifts under our tree and there probably always will be. I like giving gifts and I like smiles on faces as they receive gifts. Christmas will be different this year without Nate. I can’t hide that Christmas will be hard this year. I think this year, most days, I feel like I am just going through the motions of the holidays. I can’t seem to find that Christmas spirit and joy that I’ve always had at Christmas. The anticipation and excitement that I love is just not here. My heart is broken this year and that is okay. The last few days I have begun to realize that although my heart is broken it can be healed by Jesus. I want to find the joy to celebrate the birthday of Jesus because without him where would we be?
Yesterday, I found myself reading through Jen Hatmaker’s recent blog post here
As she referenced Lamentations I found myself re-reading it last night.
“I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”” Lamentations 3:20-24 NLT
“Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing love. For he does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow.” Lamentations 3:32, 33 NLT
As we turn the corner of figuring out our “new” traditions on holidays and in everyday life I will not forget the things I love most about being a mom. Last night I sat in awe as I watched Drew read books to Kaylee before bed. He has such a sweet heart and I cherish the quiet moments that we have together as a family. I will continue to find time for that quiet time and hope for an afternoon cuddle on the couch with the kids.
So as I enter the next week I will Hope.
Hope: It’s just one little word, but sometimes it means everything.